August 7, 2012 6:01 pm

Maximum rewards for a long journey

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Plane sky©AFP

Airline frequent flyer miles are a perk of business travel but many other loyalty programmes offer something for business travellers too.


How do I maximise air miles?
Most people assume they must join their “home airline’s” loyalty scheme. But airline groupings such as Star Alliance and One World mean it is worth exploring alternative plans as not all schemes are the same.

For example, if you live in the UK and usually fly British Airways, you could sign up with another airline if it better suited your needs and collect more points. Indeed, it may make most sense to belong to several schemes.
What about credit cards?

Credit card purchases are the second biggest source of miles after flights, so choose them with the same level of diligence you would with an airline programme. “If you take a typical frequent flyer account, the miles will be 50 per cent from flights, 40 per cent from credit cards, and 10 per cent from the rest,” says Ravindra Bhagwanani, managing director of Global Flight, a consultancy that specialises in frequent flyer programmes.

Cards such as American Express also offer generic miles that can be used with a variety of airline programmes.


Should I consider other loyalty programmes?
Mr Bhagwanani says other schemes are worth considering. “If you want hotel stays, other loyalty programmes may well be better.” He points to Nectar, the UK programme which allows you to earn points by spending money with a range of retailers and service providers.

Big hotel chains can also be a good source of air miles, “but, generally, you don’t get many miles,” he says. “So you should not make that much effort to earn miles.”

Car rental miles are easy to earn, “although you won’t get rich”.

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